The impact of social media on a major international emergency medicine conference

Emerg Med J. 2014 May;31(5):401-4. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2012-202039. Epub 2013 Feb 19.


Objective: To report on the presence and use of social media by speakers and attendees at the International Conference on Emergency Medicine (ICEM) 2012, and describe the increasing use of online technologies such as Twitter and podcasts in publicising conferences and sharing research findings, and for clinical teaching.

Methods: Speakers were identified through the organising committee and a database constructed using the internet to determine the presence and activity of speakers on social media platforms. We also examined the use of Twitter by attendees and non-attendees using an online archiving system. Researchers tracked and reviewed every tweet produced with the hashtag #ICEM2012. Tweets were then reviewed and classified by three separate authors into different categories.

Results: Of the 212 speakers at ICEM 2012, 41.5% had a LinkedIn account and 15.6% were on Twitter. Less than 1% were active on Google+ and less than 10% had an active website or blog. There were over 4500 tweets about ICEM 2012. Over 400 people produced tweets about the conference, yet only 34% were physically present at the conference. Of the original tweets produced, 74.4% were directly related to the clinical and research material of the conference.

Conclusions: ICEM 2012 was the most tweeted emergency medicine conference on record. Tweeting by participants was common; a large number of original tweets regarding clinical material at the conference were produced. There was also a large virtual participation in the conference as multiple people not attending the conference discussed the material on Twitter.

Keywords: Communications; Education; Environmental Medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Blogging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Congresses as Topic / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Internationality
  • Social Media / statistics & numerical data*
  • Webcasts as Topic / statistics & numerical data*